That proved to be just enough time for the Warriors to find the end zone. Dupree connected with senior tight end Terry Stephens over the middle on a 24-yard touchdown pass with just 1.9 seconds remaining. Junior Riley Russell rushed in for a 2-point conversion, giving the Warriors a 15- 8 advantage at halftime.
“We had one last play with nine seconds left, and we were actually going to throw a fade route so it would be a quick play,” Curry said. “Our quarterback just looks and looks and looks, and the clock’s running and running and running, and we’re yelling throw, throw, throw, and he just finds an open guy. That’s just what he does. We tell everybody it’s coaching, but that’s just kids making plays.”
The score before halftime seemed to ignite the Warriors. They took the opening kickoff of the second half and punched it in the end zone, with Graves scoring from seven yards out. Sewell’s extra point extended Cherokee County’s lead to 22-8.
After a Pirate punt, Graves dashed 74 yards for another score, which put the Warriors in front 29- 8 with just over five minutes left in the third.
But Winfield refused to go down quietly. Spencer capped a 13-play, 67-yard drive for the Pirates with his 1- yard touchdown run. His try for two fell short, but the touchdown brought Winfield within two scores at 29-14 just four seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Pirates recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Warrior 48 and drove down to the 34, but the drive stalled when senior defensive lineman Caleb Ransum sacked Spencer for a 12-yard loss on fourth down.
Ransum later recovered another Pirate fumble inside the Warrior 10 to kill another Winfield drive.
“I was just at the right place at the right time,” Ransum said. “We made big plays when we had to make them.”
Spencer managed to guide the Pirates to another score with just under a minute left in the game by connecting with Stuart on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Spencer added the 2-point conversion to cut Cherokee County’s lead to 29- 22 with 56.9 seconds left.
Spencer led the Pirates by rushing for 88 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. He also completed 9-of-19 pass attempts for 83 yards and a touchdown.
The Pirates tried another onside kick, but this time the ball sailed out of bounds near midfield. Two Dupree kneel downs ran out the clock for the final.
“I’m proud of our kids’ effort,” Winfield coach David McKinney said. “We didn’t stop. We didn’t quit playing hard. We had a chance. We’ve grown this year and we’ve just got to continue to grow. Hopefully we can take and learn from this year and roll it into next year.”